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Senator Accuses Left of Distorting His Words

Ron Johnson defends comparison between Capitol riot and Black Lives Matter unrest
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2021 9:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin took much flak last week when he told interviewer Joe Pags that he was never concerned about his safety during the Capitol riot. "Now, had the tables been turned—Joe, this could get me in trouble—had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election, and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned," said Johnson. Critics accused him of racism, but Johnson is now defending himself in a Wall Street Journal op-ed headlined "I Won't Be Silenced by the Left." For starters, Johnson argues that the vast majority of those at the Capitol on Jan. 6 were peaceful protesters, and he accuses Democrats "and their media allies" are pushing a false narrative that "all present were 'armed insurrectionists' determined to overthrow the government."

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These "false narratives" extend to BLM protests in various US cities throughout 2020, Johnson writes. He argues they were more violent and destructive than his critics are willing to acknowledge. "It was also sadly predictable that liberals would hurl the accusation of racism," he writes. "This isn't about race. It's about riots. The rioters who burned Kenosha weren't of any one ethnicity; they were united by their radical leftism." Read his full column. For a counterpoint, see Chris Cillizza at CNN, who thinks it's ridiculous to argue that BLM protests were more dangerous than the Capitol riot. For him it boils down to this: "The vast majority of rioters on January 6 were White. The crowds at the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 were not predominantly White. That's it. That's the difference Johnson is talking about." Read Cillizza's column. (Read more Ron Johnson stories.)

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